Monday, October 19, 2009

McKinsey "rediscovers" Gandhi

In a blog titled Financial Firms and the New Diplomacy I came across an interesting news byte : "today the McKinsey Quarterly released a video of public-relations expert Richard Edelman exploring the new landscape of corporate reputation and trust. "

The blogger talks about the new mantras for the financial world -"common good";"commitment to a stakeholder model as opposed to just for the shareholder'';

To me it sounded like Gandhi 101. Gandhi addressing very rich people had said “I venture to suggest to you that you are not using your riches wisely, though you seem to be using them profusely.”

He went on to add “The art of amassing riches becomes a degrading and despicable art if it is not accompanied by the nobler art of how to spend wealth usefully. Let not possession of wealth be synonymous with degradation, vice and profligacy.”

Gandhi defined this concept as “Trusteeship” – ‘“That no matter how much money we have earned, we should regard ourselves as trustees, holding this money for the welfare of all our neighbours.”

Looks like McKinsey and others are “rediscovering” the same principles and repackaging them in a “common good” model.

Gandhi was more forthright in acknowledging that he was drawing upon pre-existing ideas from religion and philosophy :"Having been in my own days in possession of some amount of money, I want to present you with my own recipe. That recipe is nothing original that I am going to give you. It is really a part of our religion, and it is this: that no matter how much money we have earned, we should regard ourselves as trustees holding these moneys for the welfare of all our neighbors.... If God gives us power and wealth, He gives us the same so that we may use them for the benefit of mankind and not. for our selfish, carnal purpose."

Well, consultants have sometimes been described as people who borrow your watch to tell you the time and get paid handsomely for that. Looks like they are borrowing heavily from Gandhi too as they advise Wall Street Firms on how their “rating” reflects less about the dollar value of the deal they just won — and more about what the deal does for the common good.

I'm sure if these "new" mantras are likely to boost bonus payouts, Wall Street managers will be quick to adopt them, else, they will be discarded by the wayside once the tarnished reputations of their firms have been burnished by a generous application of the PR polish of "common good".


Jaidev said...

Nice one! However, one should recognise that Gandhi becomes relevant only during tough times. When the markets are up, the consultants will conveniently trash the Trusteeship Principle et al along with Mr.MKG. Sadly, that is how the world (atleast the capitalist world) works.

Anonymous said...

Not bad article, but I really miss that you didn't express your opinion, but ok you just have different approach

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)

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